When humour is no laughing matter

Humour is a funny thing … and sometimes it’s not. Frequent high-profile blunders and controversial cases of misfired humour in the media have failed to remind us time-and-again how tricky humour – especially satire – can be. Now, ten years on from Channel Nine’s infamous “blackface incident”, have Australian broadcasters actually learned anything? … Read More

Who let the racist cats out of the bag?

Reactions to attacks on Indian students in Australia show how far our discussion on race has deteriorated, with ethnic lobby groups themselves among the guilty. Critics have long argued that while Australia is not a racist country there is a vein of racism running through society that must be constantly worked on. In this second of a two-part series we ask: Has neglect let the racist cats out of the bag? Read More

Can the ethnic lobby save Australia’s multicultural broadcaster?

The likely merger of the ABC and SBS was the elephant in the room during a senate estimates hearing in the Australian Federal Parliament. But is the threat of losing an independent multicultural broadcaster enough to galvanise renewed support from the ethnic lobby? In 1986 the threat brought thousands onto the streets in protest but can ethnic leaders rally their supporters today? Or is it too little too late? … Read More

Women and war reporting

More and more women journalists and female crews are reporting from the front lines of conflicts . Once almost wholly the domain of men, war reporting now seems to be open to women, but how true is that? And while women can bring an expanded skillset to the job, are we actually seeing that on our news pages and TV screens? What can we do to redress failures in assigning and valuing women war reporters? Read More

Who will blink first in Fiji?

Fijian coup leader, military dictator and then elected Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama wanted to be remembered as a man who implemented reform in his island nation of 800,000 people. But it was the very journalists he bullied who would be writing his legacy. More than 10 years have now passed since this article was first published, but has anything really changed in the Pacific islands state? Read More

Vultures or doves? When journalists can do harm in covering tragedy.

There is often a fine line between reporting tragedy and making it. Society’s seemingly insatiable appetite to see, read and hear of fellow humans in trouble can lead journalists into thinking we’re just doing what the public wants. But how far can we intrude into the grief of victims and survivors? As Australia recovers from more horrific bushfires, we look back at 2009, which brought out the best and the worst in the media. Read More

Can journalism survive modern media warfare?

Manipulation of the media by people who have power is not new, but is it getting more cunning and insidious? The seemingly endless conflict in Gaza in early 2009 showed how difficult life could be for journalists reporting from the front line of conflicts. It’s not just a matter of dodging bullets and shells but trying to avoid the shrapnel from public relations spin too. Read More

When journalists fall from grace – sometimes they’re victims too

Journalism can be a dangerous business wherever it’s practised. Though experienced reporters get used to navigating foreign cultures and alien customs, sometimes the greatest dangers are hidden away from the front line. The case of Australian broadcaster Peter Lloyd brought home the need for journalists to take extra care of themselves wherever they are, even when the pressure seems to be off. Read More

Who is killing SBS?

Why did Mary Kostakidis really quit? What made David Stratton and Margaret Pomeranz flee to the ABC? How many millions did SBS actually spend on Top Gear? Why was a millionaire fashion designer really appointed to head an Australian public broadcaster? Sorry, but you won’t find your answers in “The SBS Story”.

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Why media freedom is important to us all

In the often rocky relationship between journalists and governments, it is a sad truth that we are often liked best when we are at our worst, and disliked most when we are at our best. Few governments like a free and unrestrained media to criticise them, give voice to opposing views and expose corruption. In opposition, those same politicians support free media. So it is important journalists hold true to core principles. Read More